The Colorado Avalanche will soon embark on a season of redemption. I predict it will be a better season that last year’s.
The Colorado Avalanche’s regular season begins soon — on Thursday, October 5. The team has decided to call this season Why Not Us (2.0), but this is a #RedemptionSeason if ever there was one.
Over the next 82 games we’re going to see what GM — and former player hero — Joe Sakic‘s vision truly is for the team and whether it’s a winning vision. And we’re going to evaluate the ability of the coaching staff to implement that vision with what is presumably the roster Sakic wants.
There are going to be ups and downs throughout the season. We’ll have watch parties, happy hours (it’s a new ticket selling thing), military appreciation night and the retirement of Milan Hejduk‘s jersey number.
Here are my predictions for what can happen during the 2017-18 season.
1. Nathan MacKinnon Scores 25+ Goals
The Colorado Avalanche need center Nathan MacKinnon to be the powerhouse they thought they drafted first-overall four years ago, the player who trains with future Hall of Famer Sidney Crosby every summer and who came to camp in record-breaking conditioning.
The most goals MacKinnon has scored in his career was 24 his rookie season, followed by 21 goals his 2015-16 season. Last year he scored just 16 goals in a full 82 games. So, I think MacKinnon strides into his prime and beats his personal best by at least one.
2. Gabriel Landeskog Earns 60+ Points
Captain Gabriel Landeskog has recorded one 60+ point season in his career — that golden, original Why Not Us season of 2013-14. So, his motto should be Why Not Again.
Landeskog came close the following year with 59 points. He tapered off until he earned just 33 points last year. He’s just about to turn 25 years old, which puts him firmly in his prime. So, here’s to Landeskog matching his personal best again.
3. Matt Duchene Records a 30-Goal Season — and Gets Traded at Deadline
Center Matt Duchene has shown good chemistry with two free agency signings this summer, Alex Kerfoot and Nail Yakupov. Yakupov especially has complemented Duchene’s fast, skilled game with his own.
I think that’s going to allow Duchene to match his personal best in goals — 30, scored the 2015-16 season. However, I also think that’s going to raise his stock so high that, while he’s en route to that landmark, he’s going to be traded at deadline.
4. Tyson Barrie Fails to Crack the 50-Point Mark Again
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It’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows this season. There has to be a player who just doesn’t play to potential, and I think that’s going to be Tyson Barrie again.
I’ve been asked to stop harping on Barrie’s turnover stats (which makes it difficult to make my berry turnover joke), but that’s not the reason anyway I think he’ll fail to crack the 50-point mark again. The Avalanche d corps is going to be young and inexperienced, and it’s very likely Barrie is going to be partnered with one of the youngsters. I think he’s going to be asked to focus more on some of his defensive responsibilities.
5. Jonathan Bernier Throws at Least One Shutout
Uh-oh, now that I’ve said it, J. Bern is going to be denied!
Actually, this one’s almost a gimme. Bernier has had 14 shutouts in his eight-year career. He’s recorded at least one every season except his first, in which he only played four games. (I didn’t count that year in his career total.)
6. Blake Comeau Players Fewer than 50% of the Games
At the time of writing, the forward corps hadn’t quite been set. However, the Colorado Avalanche have been open about moving to a younger team based on speed and skill. Comeau doesn’t really fit that bill.
During the preseason finale, Comeau skated with Tyson Jost and Matthew Nieto. That’s not really a line that makes sense. Except for a checking line and maybe second penalty kill unit, I just don’t see much use for Blake Comeau. So I guess he’s 13th forward more often than not.
7. Carl Soderberg Sits at Least 20 Games
Forward Carl Soderberg is the same age as Blake Comeau, but he at least has a little more skill. He also knows his future is uncertain. He doesn’t know how much ice time he’ll get and with whom. Most recently he was on a line with Comeau.
Of the two, if the Avs want a mentor, I see Carl taking that spot. So he might skate with the likes of Tyson Jost and/or J.T. Compher. But I still think he’ll sit out at least 20 games.
8. The Colorado Avalanche Earn 35 Wins
The Colorado Avalanche earned just 22 wins last year. I’ve got to think they’ll get more this year — we’ve all got to hold onto that hope.
Here’s where we get to evaluate the coaching and systems for real. This is the roster the Avs wanted with a well-prepared coach. The team looks cohesive coming out of preseason. If the core players can have good seasons, Colorado should be able to convert 13 more games into wins.
9. The Colorado Avalanche Earn 75 Points
If the Colorado Avalanche have 35 wins, they’ll have 70 points. They should be able to squeak out five more OT loss points for 75 total points.
Last season 75 points would have put them three teams back from a playoff berth. It’s highly doubtful to be enough to earn them a playoff berth this season. But that’s ok because…
10. The Colorado Avalanche Win the 1st-Overall Draft Pick
We’re owed Rasmus Dahlin. The Colorado Avalanche was the worst team in the NHL by 21 points and still lost out on all three picks in the Draft Lottery.
The New Jersey Devils had 70 points last year and won the first-overall spot. They then sniped Will Butcher from us. Colorado must get the first-overall this year. They must win the Rasmus Dahlin Sweepstakes — the hockey gods owe it to us.
The regular season begins for the Colorado Avalanche with a road game — October 5 against the New York Rangers. We’ll see if any of these predictions start to come true.